Wry Exchange

Pet Update
02-19-08, 12:14 am
Filed under: Home | Tags: ,

 Sparky’s family is out of the parrot business.  Parrot #3 (or was it 4) is no more.  The dog ate it.   I laughed, I couldn’t help it.  The bird had free range of the house, and outside.  Our dogs have always loved to catch or stomp birds.  Some have caught birds as they were taking off, while most like to jump on the hapless bird and squish it.  Either way, they flip the bird pancake in the air until Husband ruins the fun by disposing of the bird.

His brothers now have a turtle and an iguana.  I wish them luck.  I met a few families in Santa Cruz who kept tortoises/turtles as outside pets.  We’ve had small tortoises in the backyard before, and the dogs have tried to flip them like toys.   I saw a sidewalk pet-seller with an armadillo.  An armadillo may have a chance in that household.  Joking, joking.


Wry Talks to People!
02-11-08, 1:11 am
Filed under: Culture, Depression, Home | Tags: , ,

I read back through my Bolivia posts today.  I’m giving a speech tomorrow about my trip.   The entire time with Sparky was ↑↓↑↓.  Several others had their feelings hurt by him.   The biggest problem everyone had is that he doesn’t talk.  He hates to tell people what, when, who, why, where, etc.  He assumes everyone knows somehow, or it’s not anyone’s business.  He guards information like it’s classified.  Sparky’s first day of college is tomorrow.  I had to play 20 Questions just to get the name of the college and his major out of him.  I don’t care to play games with him anymore.
Husband and I went to a dinner dance last night.  I was a good girl, and told him my therapist says I should socialize.  I didn’t want to tell him because I know he’d drag my ass out of the house, but I did because I know it’s good for me.  I like staying home alone way a little too much.  We had a good time, and I mingled a bit on my own.  I stayed with Husband a lot, and with dear friends most of the rest of the time.   I love our friends, and I have a good time with them, it’s just really hard for me to make plans or anticipate meeting up with them.  I get myself all worked up.  I ALWAYS want to cancel before we leave the house.   He’s on to me now.
 The dinner was a fundraiser, and had a silent auction.  I bid on several gift baskets. I was a smartass and bid on a ‘Curves’ gift basket at the silent auction.  Husband has tried to get me to join Curves for years.  I won the damn thing.   I bid first because I thought it was a cute metal box, nope, it was a shiny cardboard shoe box.  The only illumination on the gift baskets came from white fairy lights. I have Curves socks, visor, candy, book, magazine, and a ONE MONTH MEMBERSHIP.   Crud.  I have no excuse not to go anymore.   I’ll have to socialize with people there, too.  Bitch, bitch, bitch. That’s me.

Bolivia Update-Sparky & Darth
12-12-07, 1:27 pm
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 Darth the parrot ran away.  When Sparky bought him, the vendor clipped about 5 feathers on his left wing.  He could fly, but not too well.  I guess a week of eating and drinking gave him strength-anything would be better than being stuffed in a plastic pillowcase in 90 degree heat and humidity.  Sparky IM’d me that the parrot ‘ran away.’ I just pictured a little green parrot packing an apple slice and a nut and running up the sidewalk.  Maybe he’ll return to break out his sister!   My parrot bite is almost healed.  It won’t leave a scar since it’s on the ball of my thumb.  A small scar would’ve been a great story.   ‘That little thing?  Oh, it’s just from a street parrot in Bolivia that bit me trying to escape from a car.’

So back to the Sparky IM’d me.  Got your attention, huh?   I sent a Christmas box to Sparky and family Monday.   I texted him to look for it in a few weeks.   He IM’d back a ‘Thank You,’ and we started chatting about nothing.   Was it manipulative to mail a box?  Perhaps, but I didn’t expect anything but a perfunctory ‘Thank you’ when he received the box.   I wanted to send him a Christmas gift and card.  I also included about 75 photos, and gifts for his brothers, Jon, and his mom.   I love to choose and send gifts to the kids.  I don’t like them to spend their money on us, but LOVE to receive handwritten letters from them.  (so far, everything sent to Jon and Jen has made it to them.  Europe’s usually good, too.  I’ve lost packages in Chile before.)

We finally got around to IM’ing about the eviction.  His memory is quite different.  He said no one kicked me out of the house, and that I ran away.  He said I changed the story to avoid guilt or responsibility.  (Keep in mind the kid is an accomplished liar.  He is really good at getting me to doubt myself.)  So, now what?  Do I believe he honestly believes that?  Could it have been a huge misunderstanding?  Is he just screwing with me?   I don’t know.  I don’t care.   He’s still just a kid,  and it’s so much more important to me that I don’t lose him.   I wasn’t angry that day, and I’m not angry now.  I was incredibly sad, and now I’m happier.  We’ll talk it out sometime, but for now, I’m just going to let it go. 

EDIT: I IM’d with Sparky’s brother tonight. Darth’s sister ran away, too.  He said they ran up the tree, and over the fence.   Parrot escapees!   They will try again, with younger parrots.  This pair were 2-3 months old. 

Thinking of Bolivia
12-09-07, 12:19 pm
Filed under: Culture, Home | Tags: , ,

 Excerpted from Britain’s The Telegraph: The poorest country in South America with a GNI per capita of US$890 (World Bank, 2003), Bolivia has traditionally lacked the resources to promote its fledgling tourism industry. Latest figures (2003) from the Bolivian Ministry of Tourism indicate just 352,575 annual foreign tourist arrivals.  ‘Spot the Gringo’ isn’t an easy game to play in Santa Cruz.  But I really didn’t feel stared at all that much.  I’m very pale, and I did not blend in at all.  Most gringos I saw were either exchange students or (probably) former exchange students turned backpackers.  The population of Bolivia is 8.7 million, of which 70 per cent live below poverty line at latest estimates, many surviving on just US$2 a day.   One of the exchange students held up a Victoria’s Secret lipgloss with a $10.00 price tag, and told me a family in the country could live on that for a week.   That made a huge impression on me.  How much money do I just piss away thoughtlessly?

The indigenous population is in the majority in Bolivia, accounting for 62 per cent. Overall the ethnic groups are comprised of 30 per cent Quechua speakers and 25 per cent Aymara speakers; only 45 per cent of the population regard Spanish as their mother tongue.    Sparky’s mom told me the new report cards for the students must be in Spanish and an indigenous language, even if no one at the school knows that language.   At the Americn school, the principal was concerned that Evo may close down private primary and high schools.  Evo has said that there will still be private colleges.

This high percentage of indigenous people lends Bolivia a strong ethnic influence, making it hugely diverse – but also provoking regular stand-offs between indigenous groups and what is perceived as the European-descended European political elite.   Several dozen people have been on a hunger strike in Santa Cruz for the last week.  The block is closed off to vehicular traffic, but people can walk past them.  My opinion is that Evo doesn’t care if they strike until they die, it’ll just be a few less protesters.   “European-descended political elite” seems to be a synonym for ‘white.’   There is definitely an ‘us vs. them’ mentality in Santa Cruz.

The north/south divide is alive and well and living in Bolivia. Strongly influenced by the climate, the south, with Santa Cruz as its economic powerhouse capital, is tropical and Latino with a strong outdoor culture. The high-altitude Altiplano, however, with La Paz as its primary city, is colder, more reserved and more formal.

According to the World-wide Quality of Life Survey (Mercer Human Resource Consulting, March 2005) La Paz ranks in 135th place, behind Latin American urban centres Buenos Aires (78), Santiago (81), Rio de Janeiro (116) and Lima (123). Santa Cruz comes in at 143 behind Caracas (138) and Bogota (141).  

I am still thinking about my time in Bolivia, and I’m not finished writing about it yet.  I’m also thinking a lot about my relationship with Sparky, and if we will even have one in the future.  I wrote to him, and left future contact up to him.  I know him well enough that if I push him, it won’t work. 

A Little Reverse Culture Shock
12-08-07, 10:23 pm
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 I’ve been home for 2 days, and it seems so strange to me.  I wasn’t gone all that long, but new behavior doesn’t take long to turn into daily, typical habit.  I get hungry on South American times, not my time.  I haven’t used a hair dryer since I left, but since it’s in the 20’s now, I had to dry my hair before I left the house.   I really feel decadent just throwing the tp in the toilet instead of a little waste-can.  I was down to using 2 squares, and now I’m using more.  (I really wanted to ask someone how do you use tp when you have diarrhea, but who the hell would I ask?  It was gross any way I tried. I asked about using the bidet, but no one uses it.  At P’s house, his grandma used to use it to wash her feet.) 

I’ve lost time.  In my mind, it’s still mid-November here at home, not 2 weeks until Christmas.  I’ll put the tree up tomorrow.  I have a lot (all) of Christmas shopping to do.  I went to the mall today, and it was so crowded.  I’ll do the rest of my shopping online.  Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle are popular brands in Santa Cruz, and I bought the boys leather necklaces with charms.  They are the same price here as in Bolivia.   Twenty dollars is a lot more money in Bolivia though.   I left home, and my outdoor plants were still alive.  I came home to 4 inches of snow.   I have to find my hiking boots among all the flipflops.  I have to dig out my Winter clothes, and put my Summer clothes away.

The house looks great.  Husband is a better housewife than I’ll ever be.  The floors are clean and nonfurry.  The dishes and clothes are all clean and put away.   We have a new toaster and TV.  The TV confuses me, but I didn’t want to wake Husband to ask how to switch between satellite and antenna channels.   He and the dogs did have a new sleeping arrangement, and I’ve had to push my way into bed the last 2 nights.  The dogs really have enjoyed the extra roominess.  I think they missed me, but they got along fine without me. 

12-06-07, 10:18 pm
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 After I was evicted from the house Tuesday morning, I had a really busy day.

Jon, Jen, and I ate lunch with  my counterpart, and it was lovely.  Then we toured the American school in Santa Cruz.  It is near the US Consulate compound, and looks like a typical US school building.  The teachers and books are from the states.  I stopped at the American Airlines office to change my ticket so I could leave Wednesday morning instead of Thursday midnight.  Then I was dropped off for tea with one of my former students and her family.  Next was a visit with another former student’s parents, and then to the home of the first student to meet her father.   Then I went to a birthday party for another former student where we had tacos, and met back up with Jen and Jon.  After the party, Jen, Jon, and I went out for a bit.  They were very kind to me after a tough day.  Before this trip, Jon was always just Sparky’s friend.  I got to know him as his own person on this trip.  I like him.  He’s funny, and always means well.   The good intentions aren’t always well thought out, but he tries.   Jen has stayed true to herself, and I’m impressed with her, too.  She hasn’t had an easy time in Santa Cruz, but has toughed it out.  (another psycho hostmom.  She’s moved now.)

I grabbed the morning flight to Miami yesterday morning, overnighted in Miami, had a great Peruvian dinner, went to Chicago this morning, and home to snow this afternoon.  I missed Husband so much.  I was very happy to see him.  REALLY HAPPY.  The dogs jumped and wiggled, and then sniffed every single thing I brought into the house. 

About that eviction, Sparky tossed me out of the house.  Honest.  No shit.   Sunday and Monday were really good.  We talked and reconnected.  He was going with Jon and I to the luncheon Tuesday.  I woke him up, and we started bickering.  He said he wasn’t going with us.  I was supposed to stay with the birthday girl Tuesday night, so I asked him if he’d like me to return Wednesday as late as possible.  He said ‘yes.’  Then I asked if he’d prefer if I just left now, he didn’t answer.  He just started walking, so I said ‘I asked you a question.’  He replied ‘I’m getting your suitcases.’  He took them both out to the sidewalk, and went back in the house.   His mom brought him to the airport to say ‘farewell’,  poor woman.   It wasn’t anyone’s finest moment.

I’m happy to be home, but not this way.  I have lots of thinking to do.  I’m not angry with Sparky at all, but have many regrets.   I just got home, and have been thinking for the entire trip home. I gave away my books, magazines, and Ipod, so I didn’t have much else to do. ;) I was in Santa Cruz as a guest of my program. As this was my initial visit to Bolivia, I concentrated more on people than places. If and when I return, then I’ll travel to learn more about the country. I want to see La Paz and Cochabamba to learn, and Potosi because it’s history fascinates me. The weather and uncertaincy about protests and militarization deterred travel as well.

2 Good Days
12-03-07, 11:07 pm
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  Woo-hoo!  Had to get that out of my system.  Woo-hoo!

No forced family fun yesterday.  Dad came over, and he and the boys made a barbecue.  It was relaxing and low-key, just perfect for a lazy Sunday.   Later on, Sparky dropped his mom and the other boys off at the movies, and HE AND I went out by ourselves.   Woo-hoo!  

Ok, yeah, I had a slight meltdown earlier, and asked Sparky´s father about renting a car to go away.   I tried to explain that I am not used to being with several people, that I enjoy being alone or with one other person.  I am certain I hurt their feelings, and they also think I am weird.  I feel bad because I know they are trying really hard.  I tried hard too, and 2 weeks was my limit.

So, Sparky and I went and had dinner, then a drink, and then picked the family up from the movies.  I was very happy to have a few hours alone with him.   We were supposed to have all day today, too.  That´s a bit difficult as Sparky slept until noon or later.  I didn’t wake him up, as he´s a pain in the ass to wake up.  My choice.  We had lunch with the family, then took the boys to buy the parrots.  We drove to meet Ian´s family, and Jon joined us there.  They are really lovely people. We came for tea, and stayed three hours.  We came home, and the boys are out for the evening.  I think everyone is happy. 

 I feel much better about being here with Sparky.  I told him I was unhappy, and I really wasn´t sure why I didn´t love Santa Cruz.  He wants me to tell him when I figure it out.  We really weren´t alone much today, but I feel closer to him now.  We talk like we used to, and I´ve really missed that closeness.  I am grateful it´s not too late.

News: The proposed constitution also would grant more autonomy to the country’s indigenous majority, municipalities and provinces; install a run-off system in presidential elections; and require government workers to speak an indigenous language.